Friday, December 15, 2017

The Little Exile by Jeanette Arakawa

book cover
The Little Exile
by Jeanette Arakawa


ISBN-13: 9781611720365
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Released: May 16, 2017

Source: ARC Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
After Pearl Harbor, little Marie Mitsui’s typical life of school and playing with friends in San Francisco is upended. Her family and thousands of others of Japanese heritage are under suspicion and forcibly relocated to internment camps far from home. Living conditions in the camps are harsh, but in the end Marie finds freedom and hope for the future. Told from a child’s perspective, The Little Exile deftly conveys Marie’s innocence, wonder, fear, and outrage. This work of autobiographical fiction is based on the author’s own experience as a wartime internee.

Jeanette S. Arakawa was born in San Francisco in 1932 and was interned in the 1940s at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas.


My Review:
The Little Exile is autobiographical fiction describing the author's life around the time of WWII. It reminded me of reading "Little House on the Prairie." We get stories about interesting things that happened in her life, but it also shows how they were treated. It's written from the viewpoint of a child rather than an adult looking back to when she was a child. She started by describing her life in San Francisco leading up to WWII, then how they were treated after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people remained friendly with her family, but the FBI sent some people to check out her father and they had to give up their radio. Then they had to move inland. Then they had to go to a temporary internment camp, then take a long train ride to Arkansas, then stay at this new internment/relocation camp for several years. We also learn how her father found a job in Denver, and they left the camp and moved there until they could finally "go home" to San Francisco.

She described how they were treated, both the good and the bad. The internment camps certainly weren't pleasant or fair, but they were actually better than I'd thought. They could watch movies, get jobs at the camp to earn a little money, and order things and correspond through the mail. They had a school of a sorts and a hospital. Well, read the book to learn what it was like. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Psychobiotic Revolution by Scott C. Anderson

book cover
The Psychobiotic Revolution:
Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection
by Scott C. Anderson,
John F. Cryan,
Ted Dinan


ISBN-13: 978-1426218460
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: National Geographic
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Written by the leading researchers in the field, this information-rich guide to improving your mood explains how gut health drives psychological well-being, and how depression and anxiety can be relieved by adjusting your intestinal bacteria.

This groundbreaking book explains the revolutionary new science of psychobiotics and the discovery that your brain health and state of mind are intimately connected to your microbiome, that four-pound population of microbes living inside your intestines. Leading medical researchers John F. Cryan and Ted Dinan, working with veteran journalist Scott C. Anderson, explain how common mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety, can be improved by caring for the intestinal microbiome. Science is proving that a healthy gut means a healthy mind—and this book details the steps you can take to change your mood and improve your life by nurturing your microbiome.


My Review:
The Psychobiotic Revolution is about how certain gut microbes positively or negatively affect your mood and what you can do about it. The main author wrote in a mildly humorous way and for the common person. While he'd use scientific terms, he immediately defined or described what those terms meant. The other two authors are people actively doing research in this field. They double-checked the content of the book and were occasionally quoted when explaining something they've discovered.

Much of the book was an overview of what we know about gut microbes--what they are, how they might affect our moods, how our gut microbe composition changes from birth to death, how it changes from your mouth to toilet bowel, and such. The last chapters talked about helpful probiotics (including what to look for in a probiotic) and how to change your diet to support psychobiotics and discourage microbes that can make you depressed or anxious. They looked at common health conditions that are often accompanied by depression or anxiety and talked about what probiotics have been found helpful in studies. By the end of the book, the reader is equipped to make positive changes. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Art of Brush Lettering by Kelly Klapstein

book cover
The Art of Brush Lettering
by Kelly Klapstein


ISBN-13: 9781631593550
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books
Released: Nov. 28, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Popular Instagram brush lettering artist Kelly Klapstein takes a simple, serene approach to teaching the art of creating beautiful letterforms with easy to use and richly colored brush pens. Kelly begins by guiding you through the tools you’ll be using, and the best ways to position pen, hand, and paper.

Kelly demonstrates a range of basic strokes along with drill sheets for practice and improvement. In addition to providing detailed instructions and tracing guides for both lowercase and uppercase alphabets, Kelly gives tutorials on freestyle lettering, faux calligraphy, and special effects. Also included are lowercase and uppercase A to Z exemplars for both large and small brush pens. Drill sheets, tracing guides, worksheets, and exemplars are included at the back of the book.


My Review:
The Art of Brush Lettering is an art book about using brush markers to create Copperplate-type lettering. The author described how she enjoys doing lettering as a meditative exercise. She then described in detail your choices in tools (markers and paper), how to store your markers, how to hold the marker, how to practice the downward and upward pressure used in brush lettering, and finally how to do every stroke of every letter (lower and upper case) in the main style of lettering that she likes. She even talked about proper posture and stretching your hand and neck muscles. She also explained some additional lettering styles (modern, bounce, etc.) and effects (shadows, highlights, patterns, etc.). Finally, she had some worksheets for you to practice on.

While the author provided detailed instruction for beginners on using markers for lettering, she focused on only one style. Yes, she described how other styles work, but her focus was on the reader perfecting one main style. If you simply want to learn brush marker calligraphy and like her chosen font (or don't care what font you start with), then this should help you do it.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Pug Who Bit Napoleon by Mimi Matthews

book cover
The Pug Who Bit Napoleon
by Mimi Matthews


ISBN-13: 9781526705006
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: Nov. 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
From elaborate Victorian cat funerals to a Regency era pony who took a ride in a hot air balloon, Mimi Matthews shares some of the quirkiest—and most poignant—animal tales of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Meet Fortune, the Pug who bit Napoleon on his wedding night, and Looty, the Pekingese sleeve dog who was presented to Queen Victoria after the 1860 sacking of the Summer Palace in Peking. The four-legged friends of Lord Byron, Emily Brontë, and Prince Albert also make an appearance, as do the treasured pets of Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Charles Dickens.

Less famous, but no less fascinating, are the animals that were the subject of historical lawsuits, scandals, and public curiosity. There’s Tuppy, the purloined pet donkey; Biddy, the regimental chicken; and Barnaby and Burgho, the bloodhounds hired to hunt Jack the Ripper. Wild animals also get a mention in tales that encompass everything from field mice and foxes to alligators and sharks lurking in the Thames.

Using research from eighteenth and nineteenth century books, letters, and newspapers, Mimi Matthews brings each animal’s unique history to vivid life. The details are sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, but the stories are never anything less than fascinating reading for animal lovers of all ages.


My Review:
The Pug Who Bit Napoleon is a collection of animal stories from the 1700s & 1800s. The author went back to the original sources of the stories (letters, newspaper and magazine articles, and poems) and included quotes from those sources. Many of the stories were about favorite pets owned by famous people.

There were 9 dog stories (including stories about animals grieving the death of their person), 4 cat chapters (including information about the first cat show in England and pet funerals), a chapter each on horses, a pony, a donkey, a famous goat, a monkey and a parrot, two ravens, two military hens, an inspiring wild field mouse, pet rabbits, several shark sightings in the Thames, an "alligator" in the Thames, two foxes as pets (bad idea), and flea circuses. There were also pictures of the animal (in the case of famous pets) or of animals like the one described. The book is a quick, fun read. I'd recommend this enjoyable book to fans of animal stories.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Life on the Victorian Stage by Nell Darby

book cover
Life on the Victorian Stage
by Nell Darby


ISBN-13: 9781473882430
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: Nov. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The expansion of the press in Victorian Britain meant more pages to be filled, and more stories to be found. Life on the Victorian Stage: Theatrical Gossip looks at how the everyday lives of Victorian performers and managers were used for such a purpose during the nineteenth century. Viewed through the prism of Victorian newspapers, and in particular through their gossip columns, this book looks at the perils facing actors from financial disasters or insecurity to stalking, from libel cases to criminal trials.

The book looks at how technological developments enabled the press to expose the behaviour of actors overseas, such as when actor Fred Solomon's' bigamy in America was revealed. It looks at the pressures facing actors, which could lead to suicide, and the impact of the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act on what the newspapers covered, with theatrical divorce cases coming to form a significant part of their coverage in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Other major events, from theatre disasters to the murder of actor William Terriss, are explored within the context of press reportage and its impact.


My Review:
Life on the Victorian Stage looked at newspaper coverage and court case records regarding actors, actresses, and theatre-related disputes in Victorian (1837-1902) England. Many of the cases were from the 1880s and 90s, partly because of better communication about incidents that happened outside of Britain. The author also talked about changes in newspaper coverage, communication technology, and laws that impacted what was reported.

The book initially looked at court cases involving things like licensing theatres, libel against actors/actresses, bankruptcy, and breach of (acting) contracts. The author then relayed stories involving fan letters, stalkers, threats by audience members to make noise and ruin a performance, violence or theft in and outside of the theatre, charges of prostitution occurring at a theatre, and murder of or by actors. He then talked about the personal lives of the actors and actresses: sex, seduction, breach of promise (to marry) cases, child support cases, marriages, divorce, bigamy, deaths, and theatre disasters (like fire).

I found some of these sections a little repetitive as the cases cited were rather similar. Other sections were more varied or contained more information, which made them more interesting to read. Overall, though, it was an interesting book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willes

book cover
The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn
by Margaret Willes


ISBN-13: 9780300221398
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: Sept. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
An intimate portrait of two pivotal Restoration figures during one of the most dramatic periods of English history. Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn are two of the most celebrated English diarists. They were also extraordinary men and close friends. Through the richly documented lives of two remarkable men, Willes revisits the history of London and of England in an age of regicide, revolution, fire, and plague to reveal it also as a time of enthralling possibility.

Pepys was earthy and shrewd, while Evelyn was a genteel aesthete, but both were drawn to intellectual pursuits. Brought together by their work to alleviate the plight of sailors caught up in the Dutch wars, they shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life and for the exotic. Willes explores their mutual interests—diary-keeping, science, travel, and a love of books—and their divergent enthusiasms, Pepys for theater and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design.


My Review:
The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn is a biography of both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. The author quoted from their diaries and personal correspondence, but she generally summarized what was said (probably because that's easier to read and understand).

She divided their lives into several themes: public careers and wider context of what was going on, descriptions of their family and major friends, their involvement in the Royal Society and interest in science, Pepys' interest in the theatre and music, Evelyn's interest in gardens and gardening and his books on horticulture, and their libraries (books, ballads, prints, etc.). The author also threw in some information about tea, coffee, and chocolate along with other imported consumer goods (including flowers and other plants).

These men lived through the Restoration of Charles II, the plague, and the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was interesting to see their views on what was going on and to get a sense of what life was like at that time. It's a quick look at what was happening and what some people's attitudes and interests were like. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in this time period in England.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Herbalist's Guide to Formulary by Holly Bellebuono

book cover
An Herbalist's Guide to Formulary
by Holly Bellebuono


ISBN-13: 9780738753034
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Released: Nov. 8, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Explore the ancient art of formulary. Organized by body systems, this essential guide provides an easy understanding of physiology and explains how herbs function, helping you design a holistic treatment for acute and chronic conditions. Bellebuono shares her step-by-step method of formulary with examples to illustrate the art of combining plants for specific illnesses, preventative care, and overall wellness.


My Review:
An Herbalist's Guide to Formulary is not a book you can use by itself unless you have an extensive knowledge of herbs. The author provided only very brief information about the herbs, focusing mainly on how the human body works (digestive, cardiovascular, brain & nervous, immune, hormones, etc.) and her formulas. By which I mean, use 2 parts tonic (supportive, long-term usage herb) to 1 part tier 2 herb to 1 part tier 3 herb to 1 part tier 4 herb.

So she'd talk about the respiratory system, for instance, and then list some herbs (tier 1, tier 2, etc.) that would be helpful for various problems with the respiratory system. She'd even suggest specific formulas (2 parts yarrow, 1 part sage, 1 part....taken as tincture). However, she didn't suggest how much of the herb to use (or even say how much was safe). The closest she got to giving amounts was "a small amount." As in, use kelp only in "small amounts due to high sodium content." (And she didn't mention the high iodine content here, which is a greater concern.) She didn't suggest how often or long one might take the formula. She didn't explain how to mix the herbs or make pills, tinctures, etc. She assumed you already know all this about herbs.

Also, I found enough basic errors that I stopped trusting her information. While she generally had good information, she'd say things like constipation is caused by too much fiber (but the opposite is true). She suggested eating yogurt when you have an ulcer, but the current medical advice is to avoid all dairy when you have an ulcer. In one spot, she said to avoid dairy for that condition, then a few sentences later she suggested eating yogurt. She also said some things that were confusing due to not fully explaining what she meant. So she said several times that you shouldn't take garlic long-term, only much later explaining that she was referring to raw garlic. I believe I was reading an advanced reader copy, so maybe the errors will be fixed in the final copy.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.